Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I need to get my rant on’ edition

We have now been away from home for a week. We have been very comfortable staying at my friend Joe’s house we are missing home like crazy. I have not had much time to blog but that doesn’t mean some things are making me crazy!

First up, the shootings in Newton, Conn:

Mass shootings are a feminist issue. Our patriarchal society is not only bad for women it affects men as well. As much as women’s roles are reified within patriarchy, men’s roles are also proscribed and circumscribed. Patriarchy demands that men be strong and fearless. While women can be emotional,[1] it is not acceptable for men. So what does this mean for men who cannot conform for whatever reason? How are they to navigate a world in which they do not fit? In the most recent mass shooting in the US, there have been calls for stricter gun control if you are on the left of the political spectrum and more guns if you happen to be a Republican.[2] There have also been discussions about mental health and how the lack of treatment in the US may be a contributing factor. While certainly these perspectives are important, I would argue that it is patriarchy along with its defined roles for men and women that is really at the core of the problem.

Then of course the NRA fuck heads have to weigh in after their self-imposed week of silence.[3] Fearful of the cries for increased gun control and what it might mean for their sick obsession, they proposed that Congress should immediately appropriate funds for an armed guard at every school. Seriously folks, their solution to mass shootings is to put yet another gun into the mix. I have never heard of a more stupid idea. What the US needs is less guns, particularly assault rifles which are only meant to kill large numbers of people quickly.

If all that is not enough, conservative writer Charlotte Allen, blames feminism for the shootings. She notes that there were no male personnel in the school and hypothesizes that if there had been some burly men there they could have rushed the shooter. Seriously. How could someone even think this let alone write it? Plus she gets it wrong: there was an adult male in the school, the shooter.


Religion is the next thing grating on my nerves these days. At my brother-in-law’s funeral yesterday the religiosity was over the top. His brother-in-law who apparently is a Christian minister performed it. This man actually tried to conflate Christmas and the birth of Christ with his death. It was beyond ridiculous. I am not sure why people who were not religious in life are celebrated with prayer and psalms. It makes no sense to me. My brother-in-law was an educated man; I highly doubt he was at all religious. In fact, what people said they most admired about him were his critical thinking skills and the ability to question that which many of us take for granted. As the minister was trying to comfort people with bible passages, I felt like I was in the middle of a cult. Religion pisses me off. Historically it has been the main cause of war and heartbreak all over the world. The current world political environment in which we live has conflict driven almost exclusively by religion. Organized religion belongs in the past.


It is fucking cold here – minus 20 and snow. It hurts to go outside. The roads are shit because of all the snow. It is precisely because of this kind of weather that I never, ever want to live here again.

Then there are the drivers. The other day a bus actually tried to not let me merge. I couldn’t believe it. I had to race a bus! There were over 60 accidents yesterday because people don’t drive for the road conditions. These people live here and should know how to drive in the snow!


[1] Even though there are consequences for emotional vulnerability.

[2] Seriously some of these reactionary dinosaurs think that arming teachers is the answer!

[3] It was really big of them.

Observations from my latest trip to Calgary

I know I complain about Calgary a lot. Every time I go back, I am even more resolute in my desire to never live there again. Even though the weather was really nice[1], everything was so dirty and dull looking because of the snow. There was a beautiful Chinook Arch yesterday and I really enjoyed seeing it. The weather was always interesting in Calgary. I also saw a beautiful view of the mountains, at dusk, as I was driving to my friend’s house. It was absolutely stunning.

Now onto the complaints:


Calgary needs a smart growth plan. There seems to be very little densification going on in the city. They just seem to keep building houses in new developments. Unfettered growth poses so many problems. It seems that Calgary is facing many of these issues right now. Health care seems to be suffering a great deal. According to my friend, who works for Alberta Health Services, the system is a ‘shit show.’ Promises of new resources coming on line are often a huge source of frustration as they lack the physical space and infrastructure to support the staff needed to provide services. I have also seen this when my mother ends up in the hospital. The nurses are overworked and trying to connect with a doctor is almost impossible. During her last hospitalization she couldn’t even get a prescription for prednisone before she left; they gave her 1 pill and told her to see her family doctor.


I remember when I lived in Calgary, we would be absolutely indignant if our commute took 10 or 15 minutes more. Calgary prided itself on having the least vehicle congestion of any North American city. Not any more! Every time I arrive, I seem to get stuck in traffic on the Deerfoot. Out where my mother used to live the traffic was horrific. It was taking about 20 minutes to travel a couple of kilometres. It would be impossible for road construction to keep up with the level of growth. I can only imagine how transit is affected.


It seemed that every plaza we went to was packed. Finding a parking spot was very difficult. On Friday we went out for dinner at 7:30 pm and we still waited half an hour for a table. On Saturday I went to the Naot store[2] and trying to find parking there was a nightmare as well. I contrast that to life in Maple Ridge where not getting a parking spot close to the door is a rarity. Even in Vancouver things are not as busy as they are in Calgary. This level of activity in Calgary certainly caused me a higher level of stress. The other thing I noticed was a dearth of small business. Every strip mall and plaza was rife with chain restaurants and stores. I like that I can still shop local at small businesses and eat at independent restaurants.

[1] Sunny.

[2] A whole store devoted to Naot shoes!!!

Quick Post

I am in Calgary and have spent the last 12 hours with my mother. I am very tired. I spent hours trying to fix her Logitech remote. I did prevail. I also found the Naot store and scored 3 new pairs of shoes!

Observations about Calgary

I was born in Calgary. I lived her up until I was about 18 when I left to do Katimavik. I came back when I was about 22 and went to school. I was away for a year at Queen’s doing my Master of Arts degree. I finally left again when I was 34 for Vancouver. I have never looked back since. I love living in Metro Vancouver.[1] All of the things I disliked about Calgary seem to be so much more magnified 13 years later:

  • I find Calgary very American. Not a big surprise as it is built by oil. This city has grown so much and it really seems to be expansion for the sake of expansion. It is Manifest Destiny run amok. There are so many new ‘communities’ everywhere and very little infrastructure. Almost every strip mall is packed all the time. The traffic situation is out of control from what I can see.
  • Consumption is so much more visible here than in Metro Vancouver. The trucks are bigger and louder. With no Air Care[2], I have seen so many vehicles spewing toxic sludge. The one thing I have noticed is that there are certainly fewer dump trucks, which does make me happy.
  • Believe it or not, drivers here are more aggressive in Calgary than Vancouver. I commute 45 minutes each way for work so I spent a lot of time on the highway. And while we have our fair share of assholes, it is nothing like what I have seen here.
  • I am very surprised at the lack of health care infrastructure here. It seems like the system here cannot keep up with demand. I am not sure if it is mismanagement or a true lack of resources flowing in. Given the amount of money brought in by the tar sands you would think the government could at least afford a decent health care system. My mother is always complaining about being able to access doctors and other health services.
  • I was reminded how much I hate how they name the streets in developments. We used to live in Oakridge and every street was Oak something. It makes it really hard to find addresses. Along with this goes the penchant for everything looking the same. My mother lives in an area where you can’t even plant flowers if you want to because all the landscaping has to look the same. She can’t even have a fence put up for the dog.

I get that Calgary is not all bad. Some of my most favourite people live here. However, there is zero chance that I will ever move back here.

[1] Given that I found my biological parents in Vancouver just this year, I wonder how powerful the call of geography can be. From the time I learned about Vancouver, I always wanted to live there.

[2] I am not an Air Care fan but it does keep some of the worst polluting vehicles off the road.